If you would be asked what do you believe was the most important event of the second millennium AD, what would be your response? The thousand year period AD 1000 to AD 2000 witnessed the formation of modern Europe, the discovery of the New World, the invention of the airplane, the computer, travel to the moon, etc. We could multiply the list almost ad infinitum.
That question was the subject of an article in Life Magazine in 1999. Interestingly, their answer concerning the most important event of the second Millennium AD was something that occurred in the year 1455. Do you have any idea of what it might have been? It was the year that the first book was printed by moveable type. It was a Bible, the Latin translation known as the Vulgate. It was printed by an individual whose name was Johannes Gutenberg.
As a matter of record, it is not totally accurate to state that Gutenberg invented the printing press. There is good reason to believe that the press was invented in China and made its way slowly to the West. It was adapted for use as a wine or olive press and then as a printing press.
However, Gutenberg invented a process to produce moveable type. The letters were formed from a combination of three metals: tin, lead, and bismuth. Gutenberg produced a mold into which the molten material would be poured and a punch to form the letters.
But why did the editors of Life Magazine choose this event over all the other things that took place in that thousand year period? The invention of printing by moveable type literally changed the world. Books could be mass produced. People became literate and developed the ability to write and express their ideas and to have their ideas given permanent form.
I do not believe it was an accident that the first printed book was a copy of the Scriptures. In the medieval world, the Word of God held a central place in the thinking of the people. To one degree or another, their lives were impacted by its teachings. Reflect on the books that have influenced the world, either for good or evil. Charles Darwin wrote the Origin of the Species that influenced the scientific world. Karl Marx authored Das Kapital which outlined the Communistic economic theory. The Little Red Book, which was required reading during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, contained quotations from the speeches of Chairman Mao.
Would you not agree that it critical that all peoples of the World have access to the most important book ever written: the Scriptures, the inerrant revelation of God and His wondrous plan of redemption for mankind? While we are thankful for printing by moveable type and the book, let us pray that the Word of God would go forth to the ends of the earth.
In the Christian Heritage Center at the Crown College of the Bible, there is a replica of the Gutenberg Press. We would love to have you schedule a visit and see it and other items associated with our heritage of the Word of God and the impact that it has made on the history of the world. Call 877-MYCROWN or visit TheCrownCollege.com to schedule your visit.